WFH & Maintaining Balance: Part 1 - sights, sounds, scents
Updated: Nov 16
This is the first post in a five-part series providing tips and recommendations to adjust to our ‘new normal’ of embracing the home office and keeping COVID-19 at bay. The stress and anxiety the circumstances of self-isolation, social-distancing and lack of physical contact has caused need to be managed, and easily undertaken, for them to stick with each persons’ unique self/ daily routine.
It has been a long 9-months worldwide dealing with the sudden onset of a pandemic. The sudden decision to upend the business world with working-from-home (WFH), and all manners of employees having to adjust, has understandably caused myriad side-effects: lack of sleep, stress, inability to focus, anxiety, and exhaustion to name some of the most common ones I’ve encountered and seen on social media. While we’re each doing our best to maintain balance in both our personal and professional lives, sometimes breaking actions into manageable pieces to incorporate into a daily routine can help to modify the way we react to the ever changing events.
In this post I hope to impart some tools and tips I’ve been using to manage through the last 9-months, with a focus on managing some of our fundamental senses that can impact our thoughts and feelings externally: our daily sights, sounds and scents. I’ve divided these into tools/tips for bringing in calmness, positivity and balance to what can feel like a never-ending non-routine. In subsequent posts I hope to cover topics such as mindfulness and hobbies; hope you find it useful!
Sights, Sounds, Scents:
One of the things I’ve noticed that impacts my environment is seeing living things grow. Having even one plant and admiring it daily can lift your mood. I have 7 personally, with 6 in the living room and just looking around and taking care of them makes the space feel warm and part of the outside world.
Another way to connect the outside to the inside (I do this in the morning & sometimes before bed) is to rotate images on your TV, tablet, or digital picture frame. I do this on YouTube with relaxation channels I’ve discovered, with various sound/music options. Some of the channels I enjoy in the morning are Calmed by Nature, Nature Healing Society, Spirit Tribe Awakening, Relax Café Music, and Meditation Relax Clips. You can find more by searching on YouTube for keywords such as “nature relaxing music”. Links will be at the end of the post (not sponsored or affiliate).
For sleeping there are apps that could be useful if you would like the sounds to last through the night (with your device plugged in) or for a timed period without images, such as rain, ocean waves, streams, and white, pink or brown noise sounds. Personally, I can’t sleep with white noise but recently discovered there are two other colours on the frequency spectrum: pink and brown. Pink resembles rain or wind, while brown resembles ocean waves or high winds, while white is like a radio station frequency that’s not in use. Some places of work use white noise during business hours to cut down on the distractions of conversations, ringing phones and keyboards clacking.
During the winter months, while light is lacking, doing what we can to replicate sunshine indoors is a must. I have a light-therapy lamp I use every morning when I wake up and it does get me into a rise & shine frame of mind. Another thing I’ve found useful is a ‘daylight’ light bulb. I have a smart bulb with both daylight & candlelight settings (to wind down for bed), but actual candlelight works as well!
As important to our environment is our daily scents. Especially during closed window season (aka winter). Anything that provides a scent lift that you enjoy does the trick. I use a humidifier/diffuser combo throughout the day/night on an auto shut off timer, incense occasionally, scented candles in the late afternoon, a scented bath, and a plug-in air freshener to keep my home/home office smelling like a place I want to spend my time.
Sights, sounds and scents are such a key component of our wellbeing, yet so easily overlooked as we go about our days and deal with what I’d prefer not to refer to as ‘the new normal’ but as a period we’re all going to make it through as science does it’s thing and we do ours by limiting contact. As someone who frequently worked from home in the past I’ve had a tiny leg up in managing the ‘being alone’ & remote ‘chats’, but I found myself unable to concentrate and with insomnia during the first months of the outbreak. These are a few of the simple things I’ve found helpful along the way, and I hope you can incorporate some into your life if you need to, or search out things that work for you.
Links to some resources to get you started:
Sample sound apps: Brown Noise, Pink Noise & White Noise; Sleep Sounds (I’ve linked to the Play Store; searching on the App store can yield similar – look for the reviews). There are also YouTube videos dedicated to the noise frequencies you can search for.
If you have any favourite channels, apps, tips or tricks, feel free to share in the comments, I'd love to add to my repertoire!
Next in the series is about: mindfulness, relaxation, meditation. In it I aim to share simple techniques and tools to help you make the most of your calm environment :)